A federal court is considering this week the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires residents to show a government-issued ID card to vote. Latinos and organizations across the nation should be concerned about the outcome of this case.
A slew of restrictive electoral laws have been proposed and passed by many state legislatures, with proponents claiming they are anti voter fraud measures. Yet the scale of this push does not make sense considering the facts: In the last 10 years, voter fraud investigations in Texas have resulted in only 50 convictions.
So far, eight states have changed their election regulations to require IDs, and about 20 other states, including New York, have similar bills pending. Another dozen have approved voting restrictions, making it more difficult to register, cast a ballot early or submit absentee forms. Some have moved to prevent felons from regaining their right to vote after serving their sentences. To make matters even worse, states like Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have purged voter rolls forcing many voters to re-register.
An onerous government ID requirement as opposed to any identification or a social security number is unnecessary and could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters, including many Hispanics, who are more likely to lack these documents.
Data from the U.S. Justice Department which has been critical of the Texas law and similar ones showed that about 600,000 voters in Texas lack an ID card or DMV-issued driver’s license. Organizations challenging the law point to the pool of voters at risk: 25% of African Americans and 16% of Latinos of voting age do not have a government-issued ID.
The new voting laws will affect whether millions of voters participate in November’s presidential election. Consequently, they could shape election results in swing states.
Fewer than 66% of American voters participate in the presidential election. The last thing we need is to create more voting obstacles.
The Court’s decision about the Texas law is critical because it will set a major precedent for other states that have enacted or hope to enact similar laws.
The outcry from Hispanic civil rights groups and leaders must reach the Court and they must call this agenda what it is nothing short than a voter suppression campaign driven by the right.